By: John Dunn
Founder, Managing Editor, Producer, Host
The All Vol Call in Show
It's just around the corner. If you take a deep breath, you can almost smell it; it's football time in Tennessee. Following its most successful season in nearly two decades, Tennessee is yet again blanketed with expectations of success. But, why? Because they had one good year in the last 20? Because they finally beat Alabama again? Because the program is on stable footing? Or is it because the NCAA investigation has finally concluded, and the team can finally focus on football?
The answer is: all of this, and more. If you were to ask someone born after 1998 what they know about Tennessee football, the answer would likely depress you. "They've had a couple of good years, but they're not very good." "I heard they used to be good." "My dad and grandpa said that Tennessee used to be really good at football." "Why are they so hyped up every year?" These are just some examples of responses which you may hear.
Unfortunately, the current generation of football fans have absolutely no idea what the Volunteers mean to the landscape of college football. Instant gratification culture, recency bias, and lack of recent major success have made Tennessee look like a lower-tier SEC school in the eyes of the current generation, which coincidentally is right around the age (18-20) of current recruits. So, how does Josh Heupel and company sell the university to potential players?
The answer to this is simple: a history of excellence. "What have you done for me lately?" is a typical response when the history of Tennessee is brought up. However, it's extremely important for a few reasons. History reveals trends, and as we've all heard, "history is destined to repeat itself," which is true. "Why are patters in trends important?" because we are at the point to where that history is starting to repeat itself for Tennessee.
Phillip Fulmer was the last Tennessee head coach to bring consistent success to the football program. In his first season in 1993, Fulmer led the Vols to a 10-2 record before posting an 8-4 mark in his second season in an absolutely stacked SEC. However, in his third year, the same season in which current head coach Josh Heupel finds himself, Fulmer led Tennessee to an 11-1 season with a Citrus Bowl victory over Ohio State.
Following a successful 11-2 campaign in 2022, the Vols find themselves poised for another good season. Two-time defending national champion Georgia still holds the pole position in the east, however, the Vols showed last season that they are gunning for the top spot in the division. With Alabama and LSU battling for control of the west, Tennessee finds itself in a great position to make a deep run yet again inside an extremely competitive conference.
The absolute floor for Tennessee feels like 8-4, with a ceiling of potentially going undefeated. It's been a very long time since you could say with any form of seriousness that the Vols could go undefeated. But, it's true. They could. It's a very familiar, yet unfamiliar, feeling. For those of us that remember the glory days, this is how it used to feel every single year. But for those who have never experienced Tennessee being a good football team -- buckle up. It's a wild ride..